History of Northside Baptist Church
Northside Baptist Church was started as a mission project of the Men’s League of First Baptist Church. Inspired by their pastor, the Men’s League established a Sunday School on May 5, 1906 in the old Town Hall on Fourth Avenue in Highland Park, a new and growing community in Chestnut Hill. The Sunday School prospered and on April 25, 1907 a Ladies Aid Society was organized by nineteen women to promote the welfare of the church. The next day a group of brethren formed the Men’s League of the Northside Baptist Church. At 3:30 p.m. on June 16, 1907 a group of “brethren and sisters” met for the purpose of constituting themselves into a Baptist church. Sixty-seven charter members were received into the membership at this time. Charles Baker Arendall, a student at the University of Richmond, was elected Pastor. Six months later the church broke ground for their first building at the corner of Third Avenue and Victor Streets, home for the church until 1975.
Northside flourished in Highland Park. Evening services, training, mission and choir programs were added for all ages. The church participated in mission projects both at home and abroad, and provided both prayer and financial support to several missionaries serving overseas. Multiple renovations and expansions were conducted to accommodate increases in membership and attendance. Church membership steadily increased, and in 1954 peaked with 2268 members. The church’s impact was felt beyond the Highland Park area as two churches, Chamberlayne and Shalom, were constituted as the result of chapel ministries sponsored by Northside and several Northside members were ordained to the ministry and became pastors of their own churches.
In 1973, as many members relocated to the suburbs, and church membership and attendance declined, it became obvious that Northside was unable to meet the needs of the Highland Park community. The congregation voted to appoint a committee to “select a suitable site to relocate the Northside Baptist Church congregation, and to secure temporary meeting places if needed”. Studies were conducted to determine where the majority of current members lived, and discussions held with the Richmond and Dover Baptist Associations. As a result, 9.71 acres of land were purchased for relocation of the church to Studley Road in Mechanicsville. The Highland Park property was sold to Fifth Street Baptist Church, a large, active inner-city congregation. The last service was held at the Highland Park location on September 29, 1975. Ground was broken for the Studley Road facility the following month. For fourteen months the congregation was in transition, meeting in the Presbyterian School of Christian Education and the American Legion building on Atlee Road, near the site of the new facility. Highland Park United Methodist Church arranged for Northside’s offices to occupy part of their building.
The first service in the new building on Studley Road was held on December 5, 1976. In August of 1978, 1.74 acres of additional land was purchased to increase frontage along Studley Road. The Haynes Building, which included greatly needed Sunday School and fellowship space, was dedicated in September of 1984. In 1985 monthly visitation and weekly Wednesday family nights were added and the church paid off the balance of the mortgage on the Haynes property. 1989 saw the ordination of a woman and addition of an 8:30 a.m. Sunday worship service. A bequest from long-time member Lena McEwen’s estate in 1992 enabled the establishment of an Endowment Fund that allows the church to fund mission endeavors, including the Loaves and Fishes Ministry, CARITAS, Church Hill Wellness Center and various mission trips. There are missions and music programs for all ages and discipleship training opportunities for adults.
Our second century offers the opportunity to add to the colorful history of Northside Baptist Church. We invite you to be a part of our church family as we strive to engage the people living in the Studley Road community to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and express it through daily living.